CAF sailing duo team up again to take home trophy from Marblehead race
By Ryan Melanson,
When Capt Mike Evans and LS Spencer Baldwin first teamed up for an offshore ocean race in last year’s Route Halifax St.Pierre Race, they came away with a good result despite harsh conditions, last-minute crew injuries and debilitating seasickness.
This year, however, things couldn’t have gone better. The duo of Capt Evans, a Weapons Tactics Analyst at Trinity, and LS Baldwin, a Steward in HMCS Charlottetown, were joined by a healthy and skilled crew on Capt Evans’ sailboat Sea Smoke, a Bavaria 38 Cruiser, and completed the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race over 365 nautical miles of fair weather and much calmer seas.
The five-person crew placed second in their class and third overall in the Marblehead race, which took place from July 9-12. Combining the results with Sea Smoke’s finish in last year’s St.Pierre race, Capt Evans was awarded the Friar Trophy for the best combined finish in both offshore races in consecutive years. Capt Evans was determined to win it for a second time, having first won in 2015, and he was able to secure it with a finishing time at 54 hours, 31 minutes, 57 seconds.
“The Friar Trophy was my goal for this year. It’s really the king of trophies for ocean racing on the Eastern Seaboard. You have to be really good, and do it twice in a row, to even be in the running,” Capt Evans said.
LS Baldwin experienced his first ever offshore race last year, and a shorthanded crew meant he had to learn fast. This year’s race gave him the opportunity to further those skills, and to do it alongside an experienced team of young sailors with racing chops. He said being able to come together with a new team and quickly assume roles on the boat felt like an accomplishment, and that the teamwork and quick-thinking required at sea can be carried over to his job with the Atlantic Fleet. He just barely managed to secure enough leave time to compete in the race during a busy summer for Charlottetown.
“I had just got back from Charlottetown for our Canada 150 visit, and I literally jumped onto the RHIB and went right over to Sea Smoke. We headed out the harbour as I was shaking hands because I was meeting people for the first time,” he said.
Capt Evans, as the skipper, gave a lot of credit to LS Baldwin and the other crew members doing the driving, trimming and generally being in charge of making Sea Smoke go as fast as possible. He recalled a point where the boat’s kite snapped off mid race, and the immediate reaction of his sailors, who had a replacement ready in minutes.
“Nobody even needed to talk to each other, they all knew exactly where to be and what to do.,” he said.
Capt Evans is now prepping for his next race, with hopes of once again representing Sail Canada at this year’s China Cup International Regatta. The four-day racing event typically brings out about 1,500 sailors from as many as 35 different countries.
“Marblehead is a race against the best on the Eastern Seaboard, but this is an inshore race, meaning you race every day, and you’re up against the world’s best,” he said.
LS Baldwin, on the other hand, was preparing to depart for Op REASSURANCE with HMCS Charlottetown, and said he was grateful for the opportunity to compete in the Marblehead race during the ship’s busy pre-deployment time.